WATCH: Can a robot car named Marilyn revolutionise valet parking?

Tests are currently being carried out to develop fully autonomous parking

Meet Marilyn. On the face of things, she looks like a fairly run-of-the-mill Citroen, but she could be about to change valet parking for good.

Few places in the world go to town on valet parking to the level we see in the UAE, with all manner of hotels and malls offering the service across the Emirates, so tests by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland with its robot car could have a big effect on life here.

Marilyn is undergoing tests to allow fully automated parking at a distance of up to 100 metres from a human driver, using “ultra wideband”-based positioning technology – a radio technology that transmits data in extremely short and low-power pulses over a very wide frequency band. See the video below for further explanation of the cutting-edge system. The technology links with an app that drivers can use to reserve a parking space.

Click below to watch Marilyn in action:

“Automated parking allows for room for more vehicles, as they can be parked closer together without fear of collision in parking areas at sites such as airports and shopping centres. The technology also opens up opportunities for optimised logistics and reduced congestion in parking areas,” says Johan Scholliers, project manager at VTT.

The tests are part of the Autopilot research project, which is funded by the European Commission, at sites in France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and farther east in South Korea, in addition to Finland. The project is running until the end of next year.

Many new cars currently come equipped with valet modes, which can be engaged when leaving your car, to limit speed and certain other functions, in an effort to stop its temporary driver from misusing or accidentally losing control of your vehicle. But with fully automated parking on the horizon, the need for such human interaction seems set to become a thing of the past.


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